I think everyone’s first car should be absolutely terrible. Just a real hunk-of-junk on wheels, a rolling disaster, I mean the epitome of the term “bucket.” I’m talking rusted out ’70s Ford Pinto bad here.
Now, before you condemn me, hear me out as to why I think this.
As I drove back from my wonderful Thanksgiving visit home, it made me appreciate my current car even more. You see, my last car, which was stolen, by the way, was an absolute clunker. But I still loved it.
“Big Purp,” was a 1999 Purple Plymouth Breeze. It had an oil leak, mismatched hubcaps — with one missing on the front driver’s side wheel — bungee cords keeping the front bumper attached, a duct-taped driver side mirror, a Superglued-on rearview mirror, a cassette deck, a permanently reclined driver’s seat, scrapes and scratches all around, a crack in the engine block, no heat or AC, and I couldn’t drive it more than 40 miles outside the city limits.
This car was so bad at times, that on my first day at UMKC, my wheel axle snapped and I got stuck in the middle of an intersection. I impressed so many of my new potential classmates that day. I caught two flats going to my old warehouse job, my brakes went out on me several times and I got pulled over more than 30 times in that thing.
That car was the best!
Some of you must think, “He’s gone a bit loopy” by now, but hear me out. Big Purp and I were together from the age of 19 until she was stolen from me a few weeks after I turned 24.
We had a bond. She got me to work and home; she gave me rides to and from two different colleges and allowed me to take girls on outings that didn’t consist of hanging out in my mom’s basement.
She was roomy enough that when it was my turn to drive, my friends had plenty of room to sit comfortably and I could easily fold my 6-foot-3 frame in the backseat to take naps between classes.
Despite the enormous amount of money and work my grandfather and I poured into that scrapyard on wheels and numerous times she failed me, I loved her and she got the job done. I can appreciate having a newer, more modern vehicle now because my old car was such a piece of “work.”
This is why I think a young person’s — or anyone’s, for that matter — first car should be absolutely terrible. Who is going to appreciate the luxury of a new car if all you have known is new cars?
A person’s first car should be able to conjure up memories of moments that may have been terrible when they happened, but you can laugh about them now. When my friend Donnell’s “Pokemobile I,” an ’89 Buick Century, broke down in the middle of nowhere, we were in absolute crisis mode.
These days, we laugh about that moment and mimic each others’ panicked reactions.
Donnell has had several cars since Pokemobile I and he just purchased a 2012 Toyota Corolla.
You need these types of moments that are associated with past vehicle mishaps to make you grateful the moment you can afford a better car.
So to whoever has Big Purp now, you better be treating her well. That car still holds a lot of my memories, both good and bad, and helped me get to where I am now.
Here’s to hoping she’s still rolling and giving some kid the same fits she gave me.